Posted by psgels on 29 October 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews




It has really been a while since I watched a movie that had an introduction that was as good as King of Thorn’s. It is a movie with a ton of action, and yet the first 20 minutes have none of it whatsoever: this movie takes a great deal of effort to introduce its plot, build up the setting, and introduce its characters. Especially the latter, had my utmost attention, even though it’s not like we learn an awful lot about them. It’s just the build-up to the inevitable point in which all hell breaks loose that was perfectly executed, well timed, and had a top notch atmosphere. It really took its time to let everything progress naturally, and only afterwards it really went all out with its action.

Regarding the action and the rest of the visuals: it’s a very stylish movie; especially the landscapes are gorgeous, but the action too is well paced and keeps you to the edge of your seat. The only problem was that Sunrise lacked the budget to fully animate them, so at times they randomly switch to cell shaded CG; yes, even for the characters. Let’s just say that it looks out of place.

If this was a movie that was only carried by its action, I really could recommend a ton of other ones that did a better job. But really: King of Thorn does have an excellent story that keeps it together, and really makes it much more interesting than your average movie. Usually with these kinds of movies, they try to stuff too much into their story, or fail to stuff in anything at all. King of Thorn however is an hour and fifty minutes long, and fits this exactly. The plot is neither too big or too small: there are plenty of interesting plot twists, it has a detailed and imaginative concept, yet this concept isn’t so big that it shoots itself in the foot. Everything really gets the chance to play out naturally, with the help of perhaps a bunch of plot devices here and there to keep things on track.

The characters really made the first twenty minutes my favourite parts of the movie, but even during the rest of the airtime they remain interesting. This movie doesn’t really take its time to give them a lot of sides, or make them feel realistic, but it does develop the main cast effectively. Especially the ending: it’s a really good one, especially for a movie and I liked it a lot.

The movie does have a number of cliches, that’s something it doesn’t escape from. However, for every cliche that this movie uses, it also comes with a very neat idea. But really: this is how an action movie should be done: a plot that prevents it just from turning into a string of boring fight scenes, a cast who can carry that plot, enough scenes without any action in them whatsoever that don’t feel like mere time filler. Oh, and a stunning soundtrack. That also really helped here.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Excellent build-up, decent action, well paced and never gets boring, excellent ending.
Characters: 8/10 – Spectacular they are not, but they are solid and developed enough to carry the movie.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Again, movie standards: it had its gorgeous frames, but the action are sometimes done in 3D cell shaded CG. The soundtrack is great, though.
Setting: 9/10 – Creative, and just the right complexity for a movie of two hours.

Suggestions:
Mobile Police Patlabor – WXIII
Laputa: Castle in the Sky
First Squad

7 Responses

  1. totoum says:

    thanks for the review.I was looking forward to this,I’m glad it doesn’t disapoint.

  2. AKI says:

    I was kinda disappointed with the movie. This is not the manga adaptation of Ibara na Ou. More like the settings and characters were borrowed to recreate another story. There’s a ton of stuff that the movie left behind. It would’ve been more awesome if the manga was closely followed. As for the movie, it’s passable, but not worth an extra star.

  3. Suu says:

    I only got to watch the movie now, but it really loses a lot of the storytelling and atmosphere the manga creates. The manga starts when the sleepers wake up and puts you in the middle of the action, allowing you figure things out with the cast and through flashbacks. It really adds to the suspense and makes it more realistic. In comparison I was sorely disappointed that the movie relied so much on explanation (particularly at the beginning). And especially with the dramatic reference to sleeping beauty. Gosh, So cheesy! xD

    Anyway, like AKI said its more like the rewrote the story with the characters and setting. Its still beautiful visually and a good movie though. Just poor as an adaption.

  4. Frost says:

    Heh, the movie started out really nice, but the whole abstract stuff at the end put me off… I have no idea what the hell actually happened and yeah… Not a fan of mindfuck at all

    Still, it was a decent movie, Id probably give it a 75 or so

  5. hoiut says:

    So what happened at the end? Shizuku dreamed everything, including the whole Medusa disease, the whole thorn castle, and everything else because she accidentally killed her sister?

    Somehow the “big reveal” was lost on me. What exactly happened? Was Tim also a dream? Why was ALICE sentient? What happened to the fundamentalist guy who was leading the operation?

  6. Denizen says:

    Just watched the movie and I was blown away, an absolutely haunting and brilliant thriller.

    I’ve read the manga, which I also enjoyed, and this movie somehow diverts from the manga’s plot whilst staying faithful to the overall atmosphere – if anything, the movie is better in keeping that tension, and not making the concept too ridiculous like the manga did.

    Honestly, even with a good 85, i’d rank it higher. It’s one of the best anime movies I have seen in a while.

  7. Kevin Caldwell says:

    I totally agree with Denizen here.
    I’m especially thankful they excluded Zeus from the movie. Really, that silly, magalomaniac antagonist ruined the manga for me. Whenever he acted over the top (read: All the time) it totally killed the mood of an otherwise intense piece!
    The movie was a good example how well the story can fare even without a “real” antagonist.

    During the end though, when they rushed the exposition, it proved helpful to have prior knowledge of the manga in order to interpret all the pieces of information.

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  • Emma
    (Sunday, Feb 1. 2015 09:14 AM)
    @Bam: Emotional involvement and rewatch value are very important to me in a film, which is my preference for synecdoche over birdman.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Feb 1. 2015 04:05 AM)
    “Firechick, answer: Hell no. And don’t impersonate Bam. You suck at it.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Feb 1. 2015 03:05 AM)
    Yeah guys! Why aren’t you reviewing Go! Princess Precure?
  • Firechick
    (Sunday, Feb 1. 2015 02:51 AM)
    Is anyone gonna review Go! Princess Precure? I hear it just aired.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 11:14 PM)
    Synecdoche is incredibly rich in detail, and keen return viewers can find a lot of things they missed the first time thru. Kaufman didn’t have a single teacup in a shot that didn’t mean something. Pacing is a bit of an issue, but if you notice the passage of time you can see that was deliberate as well. The movie could’ve been livelier, but for a movie about death and decay that would’ve been a bit of a sell-out.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 11:01 PM)
    @Emma: Birdman and Synecdoche have a lot of thematic elements in common, and given that Synecdoche was released in 08 makes me realize that Alejandro González borrowed quite a bit from it; although in the end they are different enough to justify Birdman’s existence. Where Synecdiche was a better written movie, I feel that Birdman was the better directed one.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:15 PM)
    And I’d go as far to say this beats out birdman for me by miles.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:14 PM)
    The film is a solid mood piece thanks to the in tone cinematography, a great performance from Hoffman that along with his characters drama makes for an emotionally investing film. And before it gets TOO sad theres all those bits of dark humour fitted in there that work out pretty well. This is probably my favourite work by Kaufman currently.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:14 PM)
    Well Bam, I had a go of synecdoche there. A bit of a slow burner, near the end slightly drawn out, however that last stretch was forgiven by that bonkers ending.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 01:23 PM)
    The voice of the main character got kind of annoying though, the dub wasn’t all that good either.

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